Daniel Graham has no plans to retire
The nine-year veteran would have been $1 million richer Thursday had he not be cut a day before he was due a roster bonus.
"I might have a new helmet on for the next few years, but when it's all said and done I'm coming back here," Graham said in an interview from his backyard a few miles from Broncos headquarters that features a majestic view of the Rocky Mountains. "I can't wait to just retire and be back here in Colorado."
On second thought, he can wait a little while.
"My body's telling me I have a good three, four more years left in me," Graham said.
A day after releasing Graham, who had one year and $4.2 million left on the five-year, $30 million deal he signed with Denver as a free agent in 2007, the Broncos cut loose two more veterans on Thursday, defensive linemen Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams, saving another $1.5 million in bonuses that were due next week.
Although he'd been expecting his release, Graham said it's a tough time to be a veteran free agent with the uncertain NFL labor situation hovering over him.
"It worries me," Graham said. "Now, I'm not on a team. I'm looking for a team. So, it's always in the back of my mind. I'm pretty sure there's going to be a lot of other guys in my position looking for a team.
"That's why it's important for me to stay in shape, to make myself feel young, feel I can do this again and show teams that I want to be out there, I still have it in me, I still have a love to play this sport."
Graham, whose father, Tom, once played for the Broncos, was a first-round draft pick by New England in 2002 after starring at the University of Colorado, like Bannan.
Graham said he has no hard feelings over his release and was just thankful to get in four seasons with the team he grew up rooting for.
"I understand it's a business and the organization is doing what's best for them right now," Graham said. "I loved playing here. This is the team I grew up loving to play for. When it's all said and done, I'll still be a Broncos fan."
Graham said it was hardest breaking the news to his 5-year-old daughter.
"I told her last night that Daddy no longer plays for the Denver Broncos and she cried," Graham said.
Bannan and Williams were big additions to Josh McDaniels' 3-4 defense last summer. The Broncos are going back to a 4-3 scheme under new coach John Fox, and the Broncos saved $1.5 million in bonus payments by cutting them loose.
Williams, who turns 35 this year, was due $1 million next week and $4.2 million next season. Bannan was due $500,000 next week and $3.5 million next season.
McDaniels beefed up his defensive line a year ago by adding free agents Bannan, Williams and Jarvis Green, who was cut during training camp, costing the Broncos $3.255 million.
Altogether, the trio cost the Broncos more than $17 million and produced just 82 tackles and one sack.
The Broncos have made fixing the defense their top offseason priority after the unit ranked last in the league in 2010, contributing to McDaniels' ouster.
Among the defensive linemen they might consider selecting with the second overall pick in next month's draft are Auburn's Nick Fairley and Alabama's Marcell Dareus.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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